Secretary of State for Trade & Industry v John Anderson (1997)


What documents should be disclosed by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to respondent directors in Company Directors Disqualification Act proceedings.


Applications for disqualification against four former directors of Astra Holdings Plc in which the respondent directors sought an order for inspection under RSC O.24 r.13 of various documents made by inspectors appointed under Part XIV Companies Act 1985 when making their report.


The report of the inspectors both as to fact and as to the opinion the inspectors was admissible in the present proceedings under s.441 of the 1985 Act but the Secretary of State sought a direction that the inspectors' own notes, drafts, internal materials and memos should not be produced. These were neither admissible nor discoverable. The Secretary of State also sought an order that a side letter from the secretary to the inspectors of the same date as the report, in which the inspectors expressed their views on disqualification, should not be produced for inspection pursuant to RSC O.24 r.13. In the Court's opinion the letter should be disclosed as necessary to the fair conduct of the proceedings against certain of the respondent directors, including Mr James. Further, the letter was plainly discoverable under O.24 as relevant. It would be for the trial judge to decide what use, if any, could be made at trial of the contents of the side letter and nothing in this ruling was intended to tie the hands of the trial judge. Order for the disclosure of that letter made.